Money raised for family of infant shot, killed on Mississippi highway. Questions remain unanswered in officer-involved shooting

Published 1:03 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2021

People are raising money for the family of a Louisiana infant killed this year during police gunfire on a highway in Mississippi, and they still want answers about why officers shot so many times when they knew a baby was in the vehicle driven by his father.

On May 3, Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers, Gulfport police and Harrison County deputies pursued a car driven by Eric Derell Smith on Interstate 10 after the car crossed from Louisiana to Mississippi. Smith, 30, was suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend Christin Parker and her 26-year-old nephew in Baker, Louisiana, and then fleeing with 3-month-old La’Mello Parker.

A free throw competition Saturday in Biloxi raised more than $2,500 for the family of Christin and La’Mello Parker, WLOX-TV reported. The fundraiser was organized by YO Gulf Coast, the Biloxi NAACP, Black Lives Matter Mississippi, the Mississippi Rising Coalition and ADOS Mississippi.

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Activists have been demanding information about the shootings for months, questioning whether officers were willing to shoot into the vehicle because the drive and the baby were both Black. Videos from drivers on the interstate show officers fired more than 20 rounds into the car.

Christin Parker’s brother, Jeremy Parker, told the Sun Herald that he and others want to know why officers shot so many times at a car that carried his nephew.

“They just rained bullets in there like the baby wasn’t in there,” Parker said at the fundraising event Saturday. “I want to ask, why did you do that?”

Biloxi Capt. Brian Dykes told the newspaper Saturday that the investigation continues, and information will be given to the Harrison County district attorney’s office when it is complete. He said he could not estimate when that might happen.

“There is no update,” Dykes said.

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller has said the officers started shooting after Smith shot at them. Smith died at the scene, and La’Mello died the next day in an Alabama hospital. An autopsy determined the baby died of a single gunshot wound.

The Sun Herald filed a public records request in May with the Biloxi Police Department. The newspaper reported that investigators had received results of a forensic test on the bullet that killed La’Mello. An attorney for Biloxi police provided three pages of an incident report, but excluded two other pages cited as being exempt from public disclosure because they are investigative reports.

La’Mello’s siblings — ages 15, 14, 12 and 9 — are now living with Christin’s first cousin, Lashunda Parker. Lashunda Parker said the 9-year-old girl, who witnessed her mother’s killing, has been going to therapy.